Standardizing codes and billing across industries would save much time and reduce errors and administrative costs for the government, insurance plans, and health care providers. Providers and patients would have a better understanding of what each plan covers and what payments they can expect. Billings should be done electronically rather than through paper to reduce costs and errors. These changes would also greatly reduce the amount of staff time devoted to deciphering each payer’s billing practices so that providers could focus more of their time and attention on delivering patient care.
Developing electronic medical records that are accessible by a patient’s treating physician or facility will be an important asset in improving quality. We ultimately need a system that guards confidentiality and is under the patient’s control, but that is still accessible, with the patient’s permission, to anyone treating the patient—physicians, providers, facilities, pharmacies, and others. Systems will achieve better dividends if an emergency department doctor does not have to rely on a patient’s memory of treatment, or if uniform medical records follow chronically ill patients wherever they seek care. Electronic health records would aid in reducing duplicative or conflicting treatments and decreasing the likelihood of prescribing incompatible medications, avoiding adverse drug events, and reducing medication errors.
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